Aldershot welcomes world's first solar railway

10:10 Climate Action has worked in association with Imperial College London, Community Energy South and Network Rail to introduce the world’s first solar powered railway line. The Riding Sunbeams project aims to prove the potential of solar energy to power UK railways without the use of national grid energy, and without disruptions to the UK’s train services. The project involves 135 solar panels, making up a 30kWp test unit connected to an ancillary transformer on the Wessex Route’s traction system. The energy will also power signals and lights along the route. This project is meant to be a precursor to further plans to build the world’s first full-scale community and commuter-owned solar farm directly powering UK railways.

Members of the Hampshire and specifically Aldershot community will eventually have opportunities to invest in the solar farms, according to 10:10 Climate Action. Leo Murray, the director of Riding Sunbeams has predicted that the removal of fossil fuels from railway systems will cut running costs and benefit local communities in monetary and environmental terms.

The installation of this new project follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent announcement of £125m of government investment into new travel technologies, prior to his arrival at the G7 summit. It also comes at a time in which prices for solar infrastructure and installation are falling, and more and more organisations are joining the market. According to the Riding Sunbeams team, in the event of this project’s success, there may be opportunities for similar projects in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester.

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